Week in Review - T-minus 1 week until taper! (8/17/15 - 8/23/15)

Early morning run on the Gettysburg battlefield So. Close.  I'm allllllmost to the taper.  This past week was the peak for the season - 96 miles for week.  Why not make it an even 100, you ask?  I was tempted, but on Sunday by the time I ran 8 miles, then ran 2 more at the gym, then taught BodyPump, then came home and did yard work for 2.5 hours, I was beat.  I decided that the 100-mile-week milestone would have to wait one more season.

This past week can be described in two words:  tired and slow.  I think all of the miles caught up to me this week as my body was feeling pretty beat up for most of these runs.   While I complain about it, I secretly love peak weeks like this.  There's something about knocking out each of the long runs (and double runs!) on the schedule that makes you feel invincible.  I also really enjoy being able to eat tons of food to fuel all of the miles.   I try to make most of it quality food, but I'll admit I allow myself a few more treats than usual to celebrate a high-mileage week.

Pumped to knock out 12 miles at pace!

Let's recap it up!  I started the week coming off of a really great run.  I was up in Gettysburg with my family visiting my in-laws over the weekend and had to do my last pace-mile long run up there.  Let's get something straight:  I did NOT want to do this run.  I was nervous about having to do an 18-mile run w/12 miles at pace solo and on unfamiliar (and hilly) terrain.  In the days leading up to it I even emailed a few of my running friends to get their opinion:  push the run to the following week so that I'd have company on the pace miles?  Move the run to two weeks from now to be able to do it on a flatter course in more of a true Erie marathon course simulation?  It took a good friend of mine about two seconds to figure out what I needed:  A good kick in the pants.  He saw through my excuses and knew that I needed to get over my anxiety, gather my courage and just go do it.   Once he refused to give me an out, I knew he was right.  I just needed to go and get it done.   So I ran 18 miles, on my own, on a hot day up in hilly Gettysburg - and had my best pace-mile run to date:  18 miles with 12 of them at an average 6:40 pace.  I was stoked.   So with that awesome run to kick off this week, I got to work.

Monday:  10 miles, 8:06 avg. pace.   The high from the awesome Saturday run had worn off by this point and I felt like this one was more tiring than it should have been.   A tendon around my ankle was killing me and I started panicking that the hills and severely cambered roads in Gettysburg had wrecked my foot.  Made a quick appointment to get it looked at.  Taught BodyPump later this afternoon and felt like I was digging deep to find the energy.

Tuesday: 11 miles, 8:27 avg. pace  2nd run: 7 miles, 8:57 avg.   Ran a few miles on my own and then ran a friend's 5x1000m workout with him at the track.  Then met my mom at the Y for an easy 7 on the treadmill.  Had Graston & ultrasound on peroneal tendon in ankle later in the day and was extremely relieved that it seemed to help.  The tendon felt much better, but still a bit strained. Pushed my track workout to Thursday in hopes it would give it a bit more time to heal.

Wednesday: 12 miles, 8:12 avg. pace  2nd run:  4 miles, 8:57 avg.   So thankful for a friend's company on the first run of the day.  The humidity was killing me and I had to remind myself multiple times that this was still preferable to the icy cold 20-degree runs of last winter.   The ankle tendon was still bugging me but it thankfully felt much better.  Whew.  Ran the second run of the day at the YMCA before my core class.

Thursday:  12 miles, 8:16 avg. pace.  5x600 today on the schedule and Pfitzinger's book must have read my mind because that's all these tired legs could handle. Didn't even have a pace in mind - just set out to do them at an uncomfortably fast level. Thankfully I had my rabbit (my speedy friend Kevin) again to make sure I didn't wimp out. My legs were TIRED for this one (taught BodyPump at 6:30pm the night before) and if it's possible, the humidity was worse than yesterday!!! This was one of those runs where you think to yourself on the warmup "how on earth am I going to run faster than this?".   Managed to get out a few solid intervals (paces for the 600s were: 5:57, 6:08, 5:54, 5:40, 5:40) but it wasn't pretty.

Gotta save room for some peak week treats!  Sugar Shack donuts - the sea salt caramel (bottom left) was my favorite.

Friday:  22.2 miles, 8:38 avg. pace.  Starting at 4:18am made for an early alarm but I got in 7 miles on my own, then met Kevin for 2.5, then ran with my Dad for 10 miles at his pace, then finally ran a few on my own to finish up. Whew. Had a giant waffle at my house afterwards (carbs!!!!!) and it was SO GOOD.  Needed to get this run done today since I had to leave early on Saturday to get to my nephew's birthday party in DC!

Saturday:  8 miles, 7:57 avg. pace.   This was all I had time for before hopping in the car to DC.  I felt sluggish on this one but the cooler morning (60 degrees!!) made my legs feel better than expected.

Sunday: 8 miles, 7:58 avg. pace.  2nd run: 2 miles, 8:57 avg. pace.  Don't let the average pace fool you:  I felt like I was barely moving on this one.  So very tired.  Ran laps around the track just for some flat ground. After a long day yesterday I was wiped out this morning. Had a coffee after the run and prayed it would kick in before my 2 extra miles at the Y before teaching Pump!   As I mentioned above, I was sorely tempted to make this an even 100 miles for the week, but was beat.  It'll have to wait :)

Total:  96 miles

Overall, I'm feeling...optimistic.  And anxious.  I'm a bit paranoid that something random is going to take me out at the last minute (twisting an ankle steeping off a curb, pulling my back taking groceries into the house, etc.)  and all of the hard work over that last 6 months will have been for naught.  I am sure that all marathoners feel the same way as they get to the end of the season - there's nothing worse than having something crop up at the last minute that derails all of your training!   My poor family is going to be in for a rough ride the next few weeks as I try to temper my anxiety and pent-up energy as we creep closer and closer to race day.

I've got one more week of moderately high mileage and then I hit the taper.  I'm so close, you guys.  I'll take all of the good vibes, thoughts, and prayers you care to send.  I just want a shot at it.  18 days to go!!



The Rest is (not always) Easy

It's a rest week:  This happened.  Greetings from sweltering RVA - where the "feels like" temperature topped triple digits this weekend!  (Whew) It's made for some super sweaty runs, that's for sure.  But enough about the weather - let's get to the training.

This week was a recovery week for me.  When crafting my schedule I had slotted this week to fall 9 weeks out from Erie.  Like any recovery week, its goal was to give my body some time to absorb the last few weeks of hard training (70, 79, 86 miles each week, respectively), and to recharge my batteries a bit before plunging into the last big block of work before taper.   I had been eagerly anticipating the arrival of this week:  I'd sleep in!!  I wouldn't have to do any doubles!!  I had a "short" long run of only 16 miles - what would I do with all that extra time!?!?!

Well, the week finally arrived and while it was nice to sleep in a bit and not have to do any doubles, the week was surprisingly difficult and left me feeling kind of...flat.   This has happened to me in past seasons as well.  I often do not feel as well on recovery weeks as I do during heavy training.  Not sure if it's just my body being jolted a bit out of its regular daily-grind rhythm, or if the sluggishness comes from the body absorbing the gains and making adaptations.  In either case, rest weeks have proven to be not so easy - both mentally and physically - and I have to remind myself constantly that my fitness has not disappeared when I'm dragging my tired legs up a hill in an "easy" 8-miler.   We all know that rest is where the magic happens, where we make our gains from the training.  But it can be so hard to take that much needed rest when it can leave you feeling more tired than you felt before!    I know that it's just a phase, that my body will adapt and I'll feel better once I get the next week going.  We'll get to that in a second, but here's how this past week shook out:

Monday - 9.7 miles (8:09 avg. pace)  Ran this with a friend and I was dragging.  I'd done pace miles (6 of them, 6:47 avg) on Saturday's run and they went terribly.  My legs were still very fatigued on Monday so this run was not great.

Tuesday - 7.5 miles (8:21 avg)  Ran a friend's tempo with him and felt surprisingly good.  Most likely because it was not MY tempo!  I love running other peoples' workouts with them - it's much more fun than running my own. :-)

This also happened.  I make no apologies. :)

Wednesday - REST.  Ahhhh.  I did my core work class at the gym in the morning but it was nice to sleep in and not have to get up at the crack of dawn for a run...though I felt oddly bereft to not have done my early morning wake-up-and-run routine.  I taught BodyPump later in the evening.

Thursday - 10.1 miles (7:10 avg)  Tempo time!  Ran with two of my speedy guy friends from a new location!  It was awesome to run somewhere different where I didn't know the route. It gave my mind a break and didn't give it a chance to anticipate (and dread) the hills. It was a cool(er) morning in the upper 60s with limited humidity so that was awesome, but unfortunately I was feeling the effects of the rest week and still felt sluggish.   Though I was sucking wind big time on the run, I was happy to have a decent 4-mile tempo with splits of 6:21, 6:20, 6:32, 6:26.

Friday - 8.7 miles (8:34 avg)  Recovery run.  I had an opportunity to run the first few with my father and I jumped at the chance.  I haven't been able to run with him that often since I do most of my training in the super-early-morning hours.   It was nice to catch up with him and run easy while enjoying the relatively low humidity.  Still feeling sluggish so my legs were grateful that I kept it easy. Taught BodyPump again later in the morning.

This is my post-run "I finally made it to back to my car" photo.  I had one of those flavored sparkling waters after a super hot run last week and now I am addicted.

Saturday - 16.3 miles (7:35 avg)  Long run with my group.  I was expecting to feel pretty awesome on this run (It's a rest week!  I had a recovery run yesterday!  I'm hydrated and fueled up!), but instead I felt like death from the start.  It was definitely not a confidence building run.  I kept having to reassure myself that yes, everyone has a run/several runs/a week of runs that don't feel great and don't go quite to plan.  I know that my fitness is there, but it sure seemed to be hiding on Saturday.  I struggled through this run but got it done.

Sunday - 8.0 miles (8:25 avg)  Recovery run.  Legs still felt sluggish so I decided to run to the track and do some laps since it was a) flat and b) had no cars to worry about and c) had a water fountain.  It was back to humid and HOT so I was grateful for the proximity to water!  I used the time to listen to my BodyPump track list and practice cueing - had anyone been at the track they would have gotten a kick out of hearing me shouting out loud while I pretended to coach my class!  All while running laps, of course :)  But, hey - it was a good time to rehearse!   Later in the day I taught my BodyPump class at noon and then competed in some parent swim relays for my stepdaughter's swim team.  (P.S. - if you want your Oiselle shorts to double as a bathing suit bottom make sure to double-knot the drawstring. :-) I remained decent, but lost valuable relay time due to shorts adjustment!!)

Total:  60 miles 

So with this (not so easy) rest week behind me, I am looking onward and upward to this week when I get back to some heavy training.  I've got 86 miles on the schedule and two workouts:  a fartlek-style workout and a shorter tempo.  I'm looking forward to getting back in the groove during these next few weeks - but I know that sub-3 won't come easy.    It's time to buckle down and get to work, folks!!

Anyone else out there feel worse during a recovery week?   Give me your favorite mantra/saying for getting through the last tough weeks of marathon training before taper!  

This is how it goes

Preparing to launch BodyPump 94 We're back to that time of year where I need to give myself a pep talk before heading out the door.  I have stopped looking at what the temperature is supposed to be for my 5am runs - it's only going to miserably confirm what I already know:  It'll be HOT.   I simply lay out the least amount of clothing possible (while ensuring I am not arrested for indecent exposure) the night before and throw it on at 5am before heading out into the sticky, humid mess that is a Richmond summer morning.    The one upside to summer running is that I've been able to leave the headlamp at home most mornings since the sun is up so early.  Hurray!  One less thing to get soaked with my sweat.

With the kids around all day (I've got 3 of them at home now - my stepdaughter is here for the summer as well) and various activities to get everyone to and from (swim team practice, a morning camp or two for the younger ones, BodyPump teaching for me, etc.) it's been a bit more of a hectic pace this summer than last.  Yet another reason why I'm thankful to be getting my runs in super early!  Even though it's not always fun to drag myself out of bed so early, I'm happy to get it done before the day really starts.  That way, no matter how crazy the rest of my day gets, I know I've gotten my run in!  And that makes for a happier Mama.

We are now 12 weeks out from my goal race:  Erie (Presque Isle) Marathon on September 13th.  I've been steadily increasing my mileage and am comfortably back up into the high 60s.   I've been fortunate to have a few friends around the area to run with a few days a week - they've made both the miles and the humidity seem more bearable.    I've still got a ways to go before race day, but I feel like I'm entering  the portion where I need to turn on the focus, put my head down and get to work.   To give you an idea of where my training is at, let's recap the last week:

Monday:  10 miles w/10 striders (a.m.), 3 miles recovery (p.m.)  -  Yup.  The double runs are back.  76 degrees and 95% humidity made the first part of this run very sweaty.  Second run was done at 1pm in the blazing 93 degree heat. It wasn't optimal but it was the only time I had - I (predictibly) felt pretty lousy since it was so hot, but made it through.

Tuesday:  6 miles easy - Ran this one on the treadmill, nice and easy.  Taught BodyPump later in the morning.   Feel like I have a cold coming on with a sore throat and some drainage.

Wednesday:   10 miles w/5x1000m w/3 min recovery, cut down 200s (a.m.), 3 miles recovery (p.m.) - It was 15 degrees warmer this morning than the last time I did 1000s - 77 degrees at 5:10am with our normal miserable humidity. So given that, and the fact that we had to play sprinkler dodgeball at the track (we'd run a lap, then on the second pass we'd have to run into lanes 2-3 so as not to get whacked in the face by the water!), it made for a less-than-stellar run.

Intervals were: 3:50, 3:49, 3:49, 3:48, 3:41  Avg HR in the 182-193 range for the intervals. Two weeks ago (in 62 degree weather vs. the 77 degrees today) those intervals were 3:48, 3:45, 3:44, 3:43, 3:40.  I followed it up with the 200s - 37, 39, 38, 37 - They felt pretty lousy, but I think that's because the legs were shot! Thankfully the hamstring didn't protest.  Did 3 miles later in the morning at the YMCA, followed by my hip/glute exercises and my core work class.

Thursday:  8 miles, avg. pace 8:15.  Taught BodyPump later in the morning.  Still feeling the effects of fatigue from the summer cold I seem to have caught.

Friday:  4.25 miles, avg. pace 9:03.  Shortened run-turned-recovery-day since I'm still feeling cruddy due to the cold.  So glad I only had 4 miles to do - it was work just to get through those.  Drank gallons of water today and went to bed around 8:30pm.

Team teaching the new release!  The biceps track was awesome :)

Saturday:  18 miles, avg. pace 7:55.   Thankfully I woke up feeling a bit better!  I was up super early to be running by 5am - I knew I had to get all of the miles done before 7:40 so that I had enough time to grab a quick shower and be dressed and back at the gym around 8am for our BodyPump launch!  No one was around to run with me so ended up using the time to listen to the songs for the new BodyPump release and practice my cueing for the tracks that I'd been assigned to present at launch.  The nice thing about 18 miles is that it gives you PLENTY of time to practice.  I took it easy on myself and ran 4 of the miles on the track just so that I'd have a little bit of flat land to run on as well as access to a water fountain since it was so warm.  I finished up, grabbed a shower and some breakfast and then headed over to team teach the new release!  Our theme was "superheroes" and the members had a great time.  My tracks went well and I stayed to attend the CXWORX (core work) class and about 10 minutes of the Body Combat (kickboxing class) before I took my tired body home.    It was a busy, but very fun, morning.

Sunday:  6 miles, avg. pace 8:14.   Ran early before church.  Felt a bit sluggish on this run (most likely due to yesterday's efforts).  Taught BodyPump at noon and was very happy to be done with my BodyPump teaching obligations for the week.  Whew!   Still battling some drainage and fatigue from the cold but it seems to be improving.

And that's it!  68 miles for the week.  

I'm still guzzling water and trying to get to bed early in hopes of ridding myself of the rest of this cold.  I had a rest day on Monday which helped so hopefully I'll be back to full power soon!

Tomorrow's run is a tempo that I'm nervous about - mostly due to the lingering effects of this cold, along with the hot temps and humidity we'll have tomorrow morning.  (Triple digit temps today mean that it won't cool down very much at night...)  But I'm going to get up early and do my best.  I've got 12 weeks to increase my fitness so that I can chase down that 3-hour mark and I won't get there if I don't put in the work.   Let's do it!

Hope your week is going well!  Anyone else out there suffering from the same miserable heat and humidity as we are in RVA?